During Edmund Alleyn’s stay in France from 1955 to 1970, his early nonfigurative painting gradually gave way to figuration. The return to the iconographic motif and to a more thematic approach to painting that began with Suite indienne (1962–64) “took a more radical turn when Alleyn joined the Narrative Figuration movement, members of which were noted for their political activism,” according to art historian Gilles Lapointe (Lanctôt, Dans mon atelier, je suis plusieurs, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2016) At his solo exhibition at the Delta Gallery, Rotterdam, in 1967, Alleyn introduced such pictorial elements as electric scalpels and electronic circuits to underscore humanity’s “equivocal relationship with technology” and to illustrate the peculiar dynamics between the “artificial” and “organic” (ibid.) worlds. These dynamics take centre stage in Sans titre/Untitled (1966), in which he assembles elements from the technological and scientific sphere, which seem to float above an indigo background, suggesting a vacuum or a parallel universe. This painting echoes Le Rôdeur, produced the same year and purchased by the Musée national de beaux-arts du Québec.
Edmund Alleyn was born in an Anglo-Irish community in Quebec City in 1931. He studied alongside Jean Paul Lemieux and Jean Dallaire at the École des beaux-arts de Québec. In 1955 he won the government of Quebec’s Grand Prix and was awarded a grant from the Royal Society. In 1958, he was part of the Canadian delegation to the Guggenheim International Award in New York, along with Jack Shadbolt, Graham Coughtry, Jean Paul Riopelle, and Tony Urquhart. In 1959, he won the bronze medal at the São Paulo Biennale and was selected to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale. Alleyn died in Montreal in 2004.